We continue our 20th anniversary salute to games released in 1982
with Dig Dug, an arcade game with a wide range of fan appeal, particularly from
the fairer gender. Let’s see, its cute, cartoon-like, very colorful with some
pastels, you are free to move anywhere you want and you won’t get dirty while
playing in this dirt. Oh and let’s not forget the violence is funny - watching
poor Pooka & Fygar get blown up – literally until they pop! Just like the maze
game Pac-Man in ’80, Namco brought us Dig Dug in ’82 but this time changed the
rules. Who needs walls – why not let the player make their own maze path. This
was really cool, not to mention how simple the game was and thus easy to learn.
You could play for several minutes on one Quarter, but it always got hard enough
that you’d lose. Then you think “This is easy, it’s not Rocket Science. I gotta
try that again”. OK well, maybe we could call it Rock Science :-)
See MFof in RT # 56 for the very similar Mr. Do!. Although
coming out independently the same year, and a bit more complex, it has a lot in
common at its roots. The bad guys chase you through a maze that you create.
After a while they get tired and turn into ghosts, exit the tunnels and head
straight for you. The bonus prizes showed up in the middle of the screen, and
you could dig underneath rocks (apples) and drop them on the bad guys - splat.
You should already know how to play Dig Dug, drop at least 2 rocks, collect the
prize, then use your air pump (what a weapon!) or drop rocks to vanquish the
remaining Fygars & Pookas. Three consecutive pumps and watch them explode!
Dig Dug, sans the AP2, which I won NIB on ebay, but I still have
Arcade: by Namco 1982
Home Versions: all but 7800 & INTV by Atari/Atarisoft.
Coleco (‘84, Larry Clague), C64 (‘83, Michael Reno),
Intellivision (’83 David Warhol, INTV)
1983: Vic 20, 2600, 5200, Atari 8 bit, TI-99. 1987: 7800 (General Computer
Corp –for Atari),
Unknown year: Apple II.
Artwork by: Gus Allen
Sequels: Dig Dug II 1985 Namco
Home Version Similarities.
All versions have: all arcade bonus prizes, a variety of unique
rounds/screens - enemy & rock placement; the screens (play field) colors vary
from round to round; the final enemy runs away to the top left; and the score,
number of lives remaining are displayed on the screen. Except for those in ( ),
all home versions; display the round number - most using flowers (2600); keep
track of the high score (Vic 20, C64, 2600, 5200 & 7800); a pause (2600 & Vic
20); bonus lives (CV? & TI-99?); the enemies speed up at some point (TI-99);
display points for vanquished enemies (2600 & Vic 20); and the bonus vegetable
last for about 15 seconds (AP2, C64). In only a few versions: must the rocks be
held upwards or fall instantly (C64, Vic 20 & TI-99); there are several choices
for the starting round (5200, C64, Atari 8-bit, TI-99 & CV); and for these
versions, (2600, 5200 & 7800) there is a demo, plus a continuation option & a
child version. One of the most important elements of the gameplay is that you
move slower when digging. Unfortunately this has not been accounted for on most
versions - but hurrah for the 7800 & C64, and 2600 (sort of) which did this
right. Music: Although the sound effects are pretty much all there on every
version, some of the musical pieces are missing. I’ve named these as follows:
“I” Intro, “D” During play, “T” Tense when they speed up, “C” Chase when the
final enemy is running away and “E” Ending music for the round. Most versions
only have the music play when Dig Dug is in motion, or shortly thereafter.
Have Nots: Vic 20 (31)
This fairly common cart eluded me for quite a while. My first reaction was how
poorly the Intro music is looped and choppy. The Gameplay is OK (6), but hurt
mostly by the small 10X11playfield, and also the fewest enemies (max 6) and slow
movement by Dig Dug (up/down). There are no starting round options, but of note
is that the rocks are correctly done here. That is, if you do not continue to
push/point up, the rock will fall once it is dislodged. All but 3 versions did
not code this feature, but since it is not essential to the gameplay, I did not
add or subtract points either way. Addictiveness is very good (7) enough to make
any Vic 20 fan happy, but there is no pause. Somewhat annoying are the ghosts,
who can pop in without warning, one spot from where they should. This makes the
game more challenging than it should be. Graphics are acceptable (5), and with
only 5 different objects, Fygar, Pooka, Dig Dug, rocks and the prizes you can
easily tell what is what. The Sound is blah (5), with limited sound effects and
the music is not too elegant - also missing the T & C. Controls are well done
(9), but I had just a little trouble – so I wouldn’t call them perfect.
Have Nots: Intellivision (37)
My first reaction was the wide playfield - 18X10 high, but still satisfactory.
The Gameplay is all there (7) and complete, but the addition of a starting round
option would have help. A slight nuisance is that part of the playfield looks
playable, but is not. This “fake dirt” can be costly if you do not realize you
are digging into ground that cannot be dug. The 5200 has a similar false edge,
but it is a little easier to make out the difference on the screen. All other
versions you can tell at a glance what is NOT part of the playfield - so learn
where the dirt stops here. Addictiveness is enjoyable (8), complete with the
usual INTY pause. Not counted in the scoring, but you’ll also get a little more
mileage out of this particular cart, which has a hidden game “Deadly Dogs”, (see
Digital Press Guide to activate this Easter egg) which is a combination of the
game “Tron Deadly Discs” using the Dogs from “Burgertime” (both with origins in
‘82). The Graphics are very good (7) but also small due to the wide playfield.
Sound is all there (8) and among the best. Controls are very good (7), but are
insufficient for this non-stop pump and run game. This is the hardest released
version to find.
Have Nots: Atari 2600 (39)
My first reaction was excitement that Atari packed in a demo and a child’s
version. The Gameplay is complete (7), and besides the C64 & 7800 is the only
other version where digging is slower than moving. The child’s option is nice,
but it’s hard to make up for that small 11X10 playfield. The round number is
never displayed, but you can “continue” your next game making the Addictiveness
enjoyable (8) when you can practice those harder rounds. To “continue”, press
the fire button before the “Game Over” disappears, and start on that round with
3 lives, but of course, no points scored. The remaining versions with
continuation also work this way. There is no pause. The Graphics are good
enough (6), to enjoy the game, no problems, but little to no details either.
Sound is all there (8) in effects and music, but a little weaker than the medal
winners. Controls are perfect (10).
Have Nots: TI-99/4 (40)
My first reaction was that the final ghost/enemy was pretty lame. Runs off and
you cannot pump him in ghost form and does not actually leave the screen. The
Gameplay is impressive (8) with seven starting rounds to choose from and an
adequate sized 15X9 playfield. There are no drawbacks, although I may have been
too generous as I was unable to determine if there were bonus lives or all the
bonus prizes included. It is one of only three versions where rocks must be
held in place. Addictiveness is enjoyable (8) with a pause wisely chosen as the
<space bar>. Graphics are a little different than the others, but still cool
(7) and do not detract. Sound is effective (7), but missing music T & C. The
wailing sound often in conjunction with enemies getting ready to become ghosts
was fairly annoying and plays almost non-stop. Controls are perfect (10), using
the converter and an Atari style stick.
Have Nots: Apple II (40)
My first reaction was that it really has more music & sound effects than I
expected. The Gameplay is all there (7), but does not appear to have any options
and no continuation (possibly my version is not working properly). The 17X9
playfield is a bit off, but sufficient. The game speed only barely speeds up
when one plays too long in a round. A little too much time (20 seconds) is
given to reach the bonus prizes. Addictiveness is enjoyable (8) and the pause
is the <ESC> key. Graphics are detailed (8) but like the INTY, too tiny to give
it any better score. Sound is very nice (8) only missing music C. Controls are
well done (9), but the analog sticks promote more mistakes, plus the fire button
programming requires the button be repressed each time and cannot be held. The
usual joystick or keyboard option can be helpful. As usual, the AP2 version is
only available on disk.
Have Nots: Commodore 64 (42)
My first reaction was shock at how much music is missing (all but D & T). The
Gameplay is impressive (8) with one of only two perfect 14X14 play fields -
allowing for possible exact matches of arcade rounds. A bit too much time (20
seconds) is given to reach the bonus prizes. There is no child’s version or
demo, but options for 10 starting rounds is cool. Perhaps an overkill is that
up to 9 (the most on any system) enemies can be on-screen, slowing the action
too much. Thus the Addictiveness is very fun (8) but it could be better if not
so slow. The pause is the <space bar> but there is no continuation. Graphics
are fantastic (9), with loads of detail. Sound is very good (7) with nice
effects, but the missing music essentially costs it a share of a medal. Without
music, the “ghosting” sound is thrown in, and thus heard too often. Controls
are perfect (10). This version is found on both cart and disk from Atarisoft,
and also on disk from Thunder Mountain and Datasoft. I do not have all
versions, but Mat Allen says they are pretty much the same.
Bronze Medal: Colecovision (43)
My first reaction was to agree with Sean Kelly (Digital Press). If Atarisoft
had finished it, this baby may have been the best. I could disqualify it, since
it was never officially released, but then it is now available in cart, and
probably ROM format for those who want to play it. The Gameplay is impressive
(8) and complete. I gave it a little slack knowing that it was not polished -
such as no apparent bonus lives, no “real” demo and a shortened 14X8 playfield.
But there is a choice of 3 difficulties er uh starting levels combined.
Obviously they couldn’t make up their mind so they gave a mix with 5, 4 & 3
lives when starting at rounds 1, 3 & 5 respectfully. But there is no actual
difficulty change in any option. Addictiveness is very fun (8) but I didn’t add
a point for the pause <*>. When using a non-CV controller, you cannot pause. A
shame since the second controller can still start a game, but nothing else. Is
it unfinished or short-sighted programming? Graphics are wonderful (9), maybe
the best, with loads of color and detail, especially the inflation and bursting
sequences. Sound is nice (8) only missing one part of the music. Controls are
perfect (10) using Atari controllers. Never officially released - too bad.
Bronze Medal: Atari 5200 (43)
My first reaction was that there was nothing missing or wrong -
so it should earn a medal. Upon closer examination there is some play field
that almost looks like the annoying “fake dirt”. But this is not too bad and
otherwise, the game only lacks the right controller. The Gameplay is impressive
(8) and possibly the best. The 14X13 playfield is almost enough to make exact
matches with the layout of the arcade rounds. All the options are here, 12
different starting rounds, the child’s version (easier difficulty) and a demo.
Addictiveness is outstanding (9) with a pause <pause>, and continuation of the
game that may keep you coming back more than any other. Graphics are sharp (8),
just a wee bit simplified. Sound is well done (9) with the best sound effects
and every piece of music included properly. Controls are super (9), but even
with the Wico sticks occasionally fail to be perfect.
Silver Medal: Atari 8 bit (44)
My first reaction was how lame this game was. Fortunately there was a
revised/upgraded version. The initial release was sad but fortunately is harder
to find. The first version and then revised version was released on both on
cart and disk. Digital Press calls the revision the “Dig It! Player Update”.
There is also the 5200 version made for the Atari 8 bit, which is probably the
best of the 3, and what I used to score this system. This only works on the
400/800. It gets the same scores and comments above as the 5200, but then add
in a perfect (10) for Controls. The first version would be scored (7,6,7,6,10 =
36). There’s no pause, no Galaxian starting round or prize, no kid’s version, a
13X9 playfield, no continuation, all with some very annoying sound and effects.
The enemies look like green goblins. If you have this version, just look, but
do not touch.
Gold Medal: Atari 7800 (45)
My first reaction was frustration since the 7800 should be capable of including
everything. There was no starting round option, but the Gameplay is still very
impressive (8). The continuation allows you to practice the harder rounds and
there is the child’s version as well as the perfect 14X14 playfield. The
Addictiveness is fantastic (9), and nothing will turn you away. The pause is
<pause>. Graphics are superb (9) with plenty of color, detail and animation.
The Sound is wonderful (9) with the best effects and very complete music.
Controls are perfect (10) using a 2600 stick. Now if they only would have made
a simultaneous two-player version . . .
Acknowledgments: Thanks to those who directly or indirectly help
me in my reviews. The Giant list of classic programmers, KLOV, Digital Press
Guide, and Yesterdayland 80’s. Also special thanks this month for help from
several folks, and I may have missed someone too. Andrew Tonkin who sent me
FREE from Australia a spare Vic 20 cart to complete my classic collection.
Andrew has been a good fan of my column for quite a while and is also a Vic 20
enthusiast. Sorry that it did not score so well, but he made sure that it was
not left out. Also Ron Corcoran,
http://www.snipercade.com & Steve Knox,
for the Atari 8 bit details, especially since my cart was no good and I only had
2 of the 3 disk versions. Mat Allen verified the different C64 multiple
releases. Finally Sean Kelly for the CV cart, a gem for the CV collection.